Bruno and Yellow Beans: Artificial Intelligence in the Field

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Heat bounces off the rocks as Bakari Hamisi Sumawe leads the way to his bean field. It is not a short walk. Navigating steep rock inclines and thick forest pathways, it takes around an hour to reach his plot.

“Why did we farm in a valley?” he reflects. “Because there’s a reliable supply of water for irrigation. There’s always a possibility of a good harvest because of the constant supply of water,” he explains.

Common bean plants need water to flower. Without water, from irrigation sources or from rain, the flowers abort. Fewer flowers are then converted into pods, and that translates into lower yield.

In a twist of cruel irony so often associated with climate change, Sumawe faces another problem: too much rainfall. “When the rain is too much to harvest, it is hard to store [the beans]. It’s costly, the costs become more than the production,” he explains.

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